Wealthy South Africans show interest for billion rand UK penthouse

South Africans are queuing to buy property abroad and most want to invest in the UK.

This is according to Barak Geffen of Sotheby's, who said the majority of the interest is from buyers looking to purchase property between R3,57m (£250 000) and R28,5m (£2m).

"These are second-home investments that buyers will generally rent out," he said.

Andy Collett of Pam Golding's international division confirmed the "huge" interest in UK properties, especially in London.

This demand is irrespective of the exchange rate as South Africans are constantly inquiring about investing, he said.

According to Collett, the average price of property sold is around R5m (£400 000) and buyers are typically expected to put down a 35% deposit.

He said that 90% of the purchases in the UK were buy-to-let and estimated that buyers could expect rental income of around 5,5% a year.

Geffen explained that the majority of international property purchases was through fractional ownership schemes.

South Africans investing through this scheme could buy a hotel suite from R4,85m (£400 000), which would entitle the buyer to 52 nights' accommodation a year and a guaranteed rental income of 6% in the first year, he explained.

"Once they've made their money in equities or property, South Africans want to expand their portfolios and invest in international real estate," said Collett.

A potential investment for wealthy South Africans is One Hyde Park, reputed to be the most expensive block of flats in the world.

The apartments are currently being marketed to a "discreet client base of extremely high new worth clients in Africa".

According to an article on FT.com, the value of the development is R21,37bn (£1,5bn) and the property is so exclusive that there isn't even a published price list.

Collett explained that it was a one-on-one marketing campaign and couldn't divulge much information about prospective buyers.

"We have received some calls from people expressing interest in the apartment block but it is all done on a confidential basis," he added.

According to Pam Golding, genuine, qualified buyers are required to undergo a screening process before being provided with a special password in order to gain access to more detailed information regarding the property on the website.

Even plans for the building are kept under highly confidential wraps.

A recent article on TimesOnline stated that the largest and highest of the penthouse suites has been bought with funds linked to Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim bin Jabr al-Thani, the foreign minister and first deputy prime minister of Qatar.

According to the article, it was sold for just over R1,4bn (£100m) and a quarter of the flats have been sold off-plan in the past few weeks.

One Hyde Park is being developed on the site of the former Bowater House in Knightsbridge. There are 80 apartments within the four, diamond-shaped buildings, ranging from one-bedroom units to eight-bedroom penthouses.

Facilities will include a 22-metre swimming pool, golf simulator and fitness room and wine cellar for hosting exclusive private functions.

The TimesOnline article states: it is thought that each flat is fitted with bullet-resistant walls and windows. There is underground parking for 115 vehicles and private lifts direct to each residence. The site will also have an underground passage to the near-by Mandarin Oriental hotel.

Article by: Gaylyn Wingate-Pearse - www.moneyweb.co.za